Postdoctoral Research Fellow in “Environmental Microbiology”

University of Stirling

United Kingdom

September 26, 2022

Description

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in “Environmental Microbiology” Apply Post Details

Full time Fixed term for 26 months

The closing date for applications is midnight on Monday 26 September 2022 Interviews are expected to take place on Monday 03 October 2022

There is an expectation that work will be undertaken in the UK

For the purposes of sponsorship, this is a postdoctoral role under SOC code 2119

The University of Stirling recognises that a diverse workforce benefits and enriches the work, learning and research experiences of the entire campus and greater community. We are committed to removing barriers and welcome applications from those who would contribute to further diversification of our staff and ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion is woven into the substance of the role. We strongly encourage applications from people from diverse backgrounds including gender, identity, race, age, class, and ethnicity

The Post

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) position to work on the persistence of human pathogens in agricultural soil- crop systems. The successful candidate will be based in Stirling and become part of the wider interdisciplinary team involved with the £3.85m SPACES project, which is led by the University of Stirling, and involves the University of Malawi, University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Most vegetables grown in Africa rely on wastewater as the only available surface water for irrigation, especially in the dry season. Use of wastewater in urban vegetable farms not only lessens the pressure on water resources but also increases water productivity through reuse of water and nutrients. However, wastewater irrigation is often associated with enteric pathogens and microplastic contamination. It has been suggested that plastics, and microplastics, can provide a novel hydrophobic ecological habitat capable of supporting diverse microbial communities. This so-called ‘Plastisphere' has the potential to act as a significant vector of potentially pathogenic and harmful microorganisms, particularly if the plastic has been in contact with a source of faecal contamination. The human health impact of growing vegetables in urban soils contaminated by plastics, and further irrigating them with wastewater contaminated with faecally associated pathogens and a potential high load of microplastics, is unclear. This postdoctoral position, therefore, aims to test the hypothesis that plastics can facilitate the transfer of enteric diseases such as dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera into agricultural soil and even directly onto (and into) crop plants. Specifically, the successful candidate will quantify the potential for microplastic contamination of vegetable crops grown in urban soils, and the risk of transferring enteric human pathogenic bacteria (and/or viruses).

By quantifying the processes of human pathogen colonisation, dispersal and exposure pathways in agricultural systems, the “SPACES Project” aims to address key environmental and food security challenges and have far-reaching implications for human health and well-being in sub-Saharan African communities.

Description of Duties

The successful candidate will undertake an extensive suite of manipulative experiments in Stirling in highly controlled conditions in our labs in the UK. Using V. cholerae , an attenuated strain of S. Typhi and pathogenic strains of E. coli , the candidate will quantify survival dynamics of biofilm formation of these pathogens on experimentally defined plastics using crop species typical of African agricultural systems under environmental conditions relevant to sub-Saharan Africa, e.g., UV irradiance, temperature, desiccation. The successful candidate will also have the option of undertaking at least one field campaign in Africa where they could conduct a range of surveillance and manipulative experiments to characterise microbial colonisation of plastics, and subsequent survival, and delivery to receptors via irrigation water, soil, and crops through agricultural and food production systems.

The successful applicant will be responsible for:

  • Using traditional microbiological approaches to quantify colonisation of human pathogens on plastics in irrigation water, soil, and crops plants
  • Using molecular approaches to determine the persistence and virulence of bacteria attached to plastic particles
  • Developing novel microcosm systems to quantify colonisation dynamics of plastics by human pathogenic bacteria by using qRT-PCR and culture- dependent methods
  • Contributing to the intellectual development of the project, including analysing data
  • Taking the lead in writing scientific papers and publishing results in high-impact journals
  • Helping supervise undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD students working on related research
  • Managing research assistants and technical staff
  • Attending regular meetings and communication with the research team
  • Presenting findings at academic conferences and public engagement events (particularly in Africa)
  • Skills & Attributes

  • Inventive and creative
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to communicate well both orally and in written form
  • Work collaboratively in a team
  • Able to conduct repetitive tasks precisely and carefully
  • An applicant guide can be found at the following address, we recommend you read this before making your application: https:// www. stir.ac.uk/media/pdf/applicant-guidev2.pdf

    Informal enquiries may be made to Prof Richard Quilliam, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences (richard.quilliam@stir.ac.uk).

    Essential Criteria
  • PhD in a relevant discipline, such as environmental microbiology, molecular biology, biological sciences, plant physiology/crop science, plant pathology
  • Extensive experience of using microbiological techniques
  • Extensive experience of using standard molecular techniques (e.g., DNA extraction, molecular cloning techniques, PCR, qPCR, RT-PCR)
  • Evidence of experience with advanced molecular techniques
  • Evidence of the ability to carry out a research project to its completion
  • Track record in publishing peer-reviewed papers proportional to the career stage of the applicant
  • Evidence of problem-solving capacity
  • Numerical skills
  • Experience in organising and conducting complex research projects
  • Evidence of excellent time management including ability to prioritise workload
  • Desirable Criteria
  • Experience in bioinformatics
  • Knowledge of the behaviour of human pathogens in the environment.
  • Experience of working with microbial contaminants (Hazard group 2)
  • Experience of working with plant-soil systems
  • Knowledge of risk assessment approaches
  • Skills in statistical analysis
  • Experience in field work, and sample collection from urban environments
  • Driving licence
  • Experience of working in Africa or in another LMIC context
  • Behaviours and Competencies

    The role holder will be required to evidence that they can meet the qualities associated with the following behavioural competencies, as detailed within the AUA Competency Framework.

  • Managing self and personal skills Being aware of your own behaviour and mindful of how it impacts on others, enhancing personal skills to adapt professional practice accordingly.

  • Delivering excellent service Providing the best quality service to external and internal clients. Building genuine and open long-term relationships in order to drive up service standards.

  • Finding solutions Taking a holistic view and working enthusiastically to analyse problems and to develop workable solutions. Identifying opportunities for innovation.

  • Embracing change Being open to and engaging with new ideas and ways of working. Adjusting to unfamiliar situations, shifting demands and changing roles.

  • Using resources effectively Identifying and making the most productive use of resources including people, time, information, networks and budgets.

  • Engaging with the wider context Enhancing your contribution to the organisation through an understanding of the bigger picture and showing commitment to organisational values.

  • Developing self and others Showing commitment to own ongoing professional development. Supporting and encouraging others to develop their professional knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to reach their full potential.

  • Working together Working collaboratively with others in order to achieve objectives. Recognising and valuing the different contributions people bring to this process.

  • Achieving Results Consistently meeting agreed objectives and success criteria. Taking personal responsibility for getting things done.

  • About Us

    The Faculty of Natural Sciences (FNS) encompasses the Divisions of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Computing Science and Mathematics, Psychology and the Institute of Aquaculture. FNS is a distinctive academic arena where new fundamental understandings of the complex and challenging inter-relationships between human behaviours, technologies, biological and environmental systems are created, explored and tested. The most recent national assessment of research - REF2021 -confirmed that 80% of our research is classed as world leading and internationally excellent. It is supported through UK Research Councils, European Union and a range of research charities We work with businesses and public service organisations both at home and overseas to achieve direct and positive outcomes for society across a range of critical problems. Recent success in the 2018 City deal is leading to a substantial investment in new infrastructure linked to the Faculty including a £17 million investment for a new Institute of Aquaculture and Global Aquatic Food Security facility and a £5 million investment for Scotland's International Environment Centre.

    Equality and diversity are central to our activities at the University of Stirling. We believe everyone should be treated with respect and we deal with people as equals. We promote equality and celebrate diversity through a variety of initiatives. The University has been awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze award, the national charter for women in science, which recognises and promotes good practice in advancing women's careers in STEMM academia (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine). In addition, Biological & Environmental Sciences holds a departmental Athena Swan bronze award. Further details can be found at: https:// www. stir.ac.uk/equalityanddiversity/athenaswan/

    We welcome applications from everyone irrespective of gender and ethnic group, but as women and members of ethnic minority groups are currently under- represented at this level of post, we would encourage applications from members of these groups. Appointment will be based on merit alone.

    The University of Stirling offers great benefits such as generous annual leave and membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme with employer contributions of 16%. Additionally, staff can benefit from a reduced membership rate at the University's excellent Sport Centre facilities and the option of childcare vouchers through a salary sacrifice scheme.

    The University

    The University of Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society. Stirling is 4th in Scotland and 43rd in the UK for research impact, with 87% of its research having an outstanding or very considerable impact on society – and more than 80% rated either world leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2021). Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling's research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.

    The University of Stirling is ranked among the top 30 UK universities for student satisfaction (National Student Survey) and top 10 in the UK for postgraduate student experience (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey), and has an overall five-star rating in the QS Stars University Ratings.

    More than 17,000 students study with the University of Stirling globally, with over 120 nationalities represented on its scenic central Scotland campus alone. The campus – also home to 1,700 staff – has its own loch and castle, and a recent multi-million-pound redevelopment has delivered modern, flexible, and digitally connected study and social spaces at the heart of campus, including enhanced student support and retail and catering outlets.

    The University has twice been recognised with a Queen's Anniversary Prize – the first for its Institute for Social Marketing and Health (2014) and the second for its Institute of Aquaculture (2019). Stirling is Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence and its recently redeveloped world-class facilities provide the perfect training environment for the University's sports scholars – many of whom compete at the highest level, including at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games – and for students, staff, and the wider community.

    As a signatory to the £214 million Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, the University is driving productivity and inclusive growth across the Forth Valley, and beyond. Through pioneering collaborative solutions to global challenges, researchers are putting innovation, skills, and partnership at the heart of a sustainable economic recovery. www. stir.ac.uk @stiruni

    Job number

    FAC01593

    Contract Type

    Fixed Term Contract

    Closing date

    26-Sep-2022

    Location:

    Stirling Campus

    Grade

    Grade7 £34,304-£40,927 p.a.

    Faculty/Service

    Faculty of Natural Sciences Post Details

    Full time Fixed term for 26 months

    The closing date for applications is midnight on Monday 26 September 2022 Interviews are expected to take place on Monday 03 October 2022

    There is an expectation that work will be undertaken in the UK

    For the purposes of sponsorship, this is a postdoctoral role under SOC code 2119

    The University of Stirling recognises that a diverse workforce benefits and enriches the work, learning and research experiences of the entire campus and greater community. We are committed to removing barriers and welcome applications from those who would contribute to further diversification of our staff and ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion is woven into the substance of the role. We strongly encourage applications from people from diverse backgrounds including gender, identity, race, age, class, and ethnicity

    The Post

    Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) position to work on the persistence of human pathogens in agricultural soil- crop systems. The successful candidate will be based in Stirling and become part of the wider interdisciplinary team involved with the £3.85m SPACES project, which is led by the University of Stirling, and involves the University of Malawi, University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

    Most vegetables grown in Africa rely on wastewater as the only available surface water for irrigation, especially in the dry season. Use of wastewater in urban vegetable farms not only lessens the pressure on water resources but also increases water productivity through reuse of water and nutrients. However, wastewater irrigation is often associated with enteric pathogens and microplastic contamination. It has been suggested that plastics, and microplastics, can provide a novel hydrophobic ecological habitat capable of supporting diverse microbial communities. This so-called ‘Plastisphere' has the potential to act as a significant vector of potentially pathogenic and harmful microorganisms, particularly if the plastic has been in contact with a source of faecal contamination. The human health impact of growing vegetables in urban soils contaminated by plastics, and further irrigating them with wastewater contaminated with faecally associated pathogens and a potential high load of microplastics, is unclear. This postdoctoral position, therefore, aims to test the hypothesis that plastics can facilitate the transfer of enteric diseases such as dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera into agricultural soil and even directly onto (and into) crop plants. Specifically, the successful candidate will quantify the potential for microplastic contamination of vegetable crops grown in urban soils, and the risk of transferring enteric human pathogenic bacteria (and/or viruses).

    By quantifying the processes of human pathogen colonisation, dispersal and exposure pathways in agricultural systems, the “SPACES Project” aims to address key environmental and food security challenges and have far-reaching implications for human health and well-being in sub-Saharan African communities.

    Description of Duties

    The successful candidate will undertake an extensive suite of manipulative experiments in Stirling in highly controlled conditions in our labs in the UK. Using V. cholerae , an attenuated strain of S. Typhi and pathogenic strains of E. coli , the candidate will quantify survival dynamics of biofilm formation of these pathogens on experimentally defined plastics using crop species typical of African agricultural systems under environmental conditions relevant to sub-Saharan Africa, e.g., UV irradiance, temperature, desiccation. The successful candidate will also have the option of undertaking at least one field campaign in Africa where they could conduct a range of surveillance and manipulative experiments to characterise microbial colonisation of plastics, and subsequent survival, and delivery to receptors via irrigation water, soil, and crops through agricultural and food production systems.

    The successful applicant will be responsible for:

  • Using traditional microbiological approaches to quantify colonisation of human pathogens on plastics in irrigation water, soil, and crops plants
  • Using molecular approaches to determine the persistence and virulence of bacteria attached to plastic particles
  • Developing novel microcosm systems to quantify colonisation dynamics of plastics by human pathogenic bacteria by using qRT-PCR and culture- dependent methods
  • Contributing to the intellectual development of the project, including analysing data
  • Taking the lead in writing scientific papers and publishing results in high-impact journals
  • Helping supervise undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD students working on related research
  • Managing research assistants and technical staff
  • Attending regular meetings and communication with the research team
  • Presenting findings at academic conferences and public engagement events (particularly in Africa)
  • Skills & Attributes

  • Inventive and creative
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to communicate well both orally and in written form
  • Work collaboratively in a team
  • Able to conduct repetitive tasks precisely and carefully
  • An applicant guide can be found at the following address, we recommend you read this before making your application: https:// www. stir.ac.uk/media/pdf/applicant-guidev2.pdf

    Informal enquiries may be made to Prof Richard Quilliam, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences (richard.quilliam@stir.ac.uk).

    Essential Criteria
  • PhD in a relevant discipline, such as environmental microbiology, molecular biology, biological sciences, plant physiology/crop science, plant pathology
  • Extensive experience of using microbiological techniques
  • Extensive experience of using standard molecular techniques (e.g., DNA extraction, molecular cloning techniques, PCR, qPCR, RT-PCR)
  • Evidence of experience with advanced molecular techniques
  • Evidence of the ability to carry out a research project to its completion
  • Track record in publishing peer-reviewed papers proportional to the career stage of the applicant
  • Evidence of problem-solving capacity
  • Numerical skills
  • Experience in organising and conducting complex research projects
  • Evidence of excellent time management including ability to prioritise workload
  • Desirable Criteria
  • Experience in bioinformatics
  • Knowledge of the behaviour of human pathogens in the environment.
  • Experience of working with microbial contaminants (Hazard group 2)
  • Experience of working with plant-soil systems
  • Knowledge of risk assessment approaches
  • Skills in statistical analysis
  • Experience in field work, and sample collection from urban environments
  • Driving licence
  • Experience of working in Africa or in another LMIC context
  • Behaviours and Competencies

    The role holder will be required to evidence that they can meet the qualities associated with the following behavioural competencies, as detailed within the AUA Competency Framework.

  • Managing self and personal skills Being aware of your own behaviour and mindful of how it impacts on others, enhancing personal skills to adapt professional practice accordingly.

  • Delivering excellent service Providing the best quality service to external and internal clients. Building genuine and open long-term relationships in order to drive up service standards.

  • Finding solutions Taking a holistic view and working enthusiastically to analyse problems and to develop workable solutions. Identifying opportunities for innovation.

  • Embracing change Being open to and engaging with new ideas and ways of working. Adjusting to unfamiliar situations, shifting demands and changing roles.

  • Using resources effectively Identifying and making the most productive use of resources including people, time, information, networks and budgets.

  • Engaging with the wider context Enhancing your contribution to the organisation through an understanding of the bigger picture and showing commitment to organisational values.

  • Developing self and others Showing commitment to own ongoing professional development. Supporting and encouraging others to develop their professional knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to reach their full potential.

  • Working together Working collaboratively with others in order to achieve objectives. Recognising and valuing the different contributions people bring to this process.

  • Achieving Results Consistently meeting agreed objectives and success criteria. Taking personal responsibility for getting things done.

  • About Us

    The Faculty of Natural Sciences (FNS) encompasses the Divisions of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Computing Science and Mathematics, Psychology and the Institute of Aquaculture. FNS is a distinctive academic arena where new fundamental understandings of the complex and challenging inter-relationships between human behaviours, technologies, biological and environmental systems are created, explored and tested. The most recent national assessment of research - REF2021 -confirmed that 80% of our research is classed as world leading and internationally excellent. It is supported through UK Research Councils, European Union and a range of research charities We work with businesses and public service organisations both at home and overseas to achieve direct and positive outcomes for society across a range of critical problems. Recent success in the 2018 City deal is leading to a substantial investment in new infrastructure linked to the Faculty including a £17 million investment for a new Institute of Aquaculture and Global Aquatic Food Security facility and a £5 million investment for Scotland's International Environment Centre.

    Equality and diversity are central to our activities at the University of Stirling. We believe everyone should be treated with respect and we deal with people as equals. We promote equality and celebrate diversity through a variety of initiatives. The University has been awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze award, the national charter for women in science, which recognises and promotes good practice in advancing women's careers in STEMM academia (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine). In addition, Biological & Environmental Sciences holds a departmental Athena Swan bronze award. Further details can be found at: https:// www. stir.ac.uk/equalityanddiversity/athenaswan/

    We welcome applications from everyone irrespective of gender and ethnic group, but as women and members of ethnic minority groups are currently under- represented at this level of post, we would encourage applications from members of these groups. Appointment will be based on merit alone.

    The University of Stirling offers great benefits such as generous annual leave and membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme with employer contributions of 16%. Additionally, staff can benefit from a reduced membership rate at the University's excellent Sport Centre facilities and the option of childcare vouchers through a salary sacrifice scheme.

    The University

    The University of Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society. Stirling is 4th in Scotland and 43rd in the UK for research impact, with 87% of its research having an outstanding or very considerable impact on society – and more than 80% rated either world leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2021). Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling's research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.

    The University of Stirling is ranked among the top 30 UK universities for student satisfaction (National Student Survey) and top 10 in the UK for postgraduate student experience (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey), and has an overall five-star rating in the QS Stars University Ratings.

    More than 17,000 students study with the University of Stirling globally, with over 120 nationalities represented on its scenic central Scotland campus alone. The campus – also home to 1,700 staff – has its own loch and castle, and a recent multi-million-pound redevelopment has delivered modern, flexible, and digitally connected study and social spaces at the heart of campus, including enhanced student support and retail and catering outlets.

    The University has twice been recognised with a Queen's Anniversary Prize – the first for its Institute for Social Marketing and Health (2014) and the second for its Institute of Aquaculture (2019). Stirling is Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence and its recently redeveloped world-class facilities provide the perfect training environment for the University's sports scholars – many of whom compete at the highest level, including at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games – and for students, staff, and the wider community.

    As a signatory to the £214 million Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, the University is driving productivity and inclusive growth across the Forth Valley, and beyond. Through pioneering collaborative solutions to global challenges, researchers are putting innovation, skills, and partnership at the heart of a sustainable economic recovery. www. stir.ac.uk @stiruni

    About the employer

    The University of Stirling, established in 1967 through a royal charter, is a reputable public university in Stirling, Scotland. Lord Lionel Robbins, an acclaimed economist, was the university's first chancellor. Students can pursue both bachelor’s and master’s level programmes at...